The Streak ended at 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days!!
I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days from April 6th to 28th!
Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter
http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!
MLB Park # 25 Day # 20
COL 2 @ PIT 1
Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)- My stay in Tampa Bay was a nice one the night before(despite having to commandeering a neighboring hotel just to do some laundry at midnight.) I was too fired up to sleep and there was no chance at all I would risk sleeping in on this day. I had known for a while that this was going to be an epic day. Since the fallout of the missed doubleheader for Cleveland and Baltimore was first established on that San Diego flight, I looked forward to this day thoroughly.
The plan was put together the previous week. Once the Cleveland Indians had invited myself and 3 others to their baseball suite, I made some magic fly. Lori Martini flew into Pittsburgh with me via a connector flight in Baltimore on Southwest Airlines. I had not seen Lori since the Boston Red Sox game on Patriots Day. We boarded the flight to Pittsburgh and kept reviewing the plan of the impending doubleheader.
When we landed in Pittsburgh, Ken Lee was waiting for us and we made it PNC Park with plenty of time to park and buy tickets. Lori and I walked the whole concourse and saw all this beautiful park had to offer. Amongst the only few drawbacks n the park, was that the really need to give the place a fresh coat of paint and repair the weather-beaten scoreboard. On the menu for the morning were Buffalo Wings and pizza from Diamond(the pizzeria directly in the left field stands.) The Pepperoni pizza was a pretty good deal in being an 18 inch pie for $21. The Buffalo Wings from Steak and Lube were satisfactory.
The seats we had are one of the better valued price tickets in the Major Leagues. Left Field bleacher tickets for $13 each. It is General Admission seating so there were plenty of seats. Even with the extra 30% added for this being considered a Premium game(don’t get Lori Martini started on this rant-lol) the value was still good. The game was going at an incredible clip. James McDonald was throwing a no-hitter through the first 5 innings. He was the same guy who broke up Matt Cain‘s potential perfect game the week before. During the entire streak, I had a pitcher do this about 12 out of the 30 games I witnessed. It was not to be. Colorado tied the game up in the 8th inning to throw a quick wrench into our plans.
I can explain the adrenalin phenomenon to people as much as I like for these doubleheader scenarios, unless it actually comes to fruition during the game, then people just don’t have a clue. Ken Lee was already waiting in the parking spot just across the street waiting for Lori and I to come sprinting out once the game was over. Lori and I started pacing near the home plate exits. It was all too familiar for me. Without any doubt, an extra inning game with a lengthy time period would be devastating. We were to be special guests of the Cleveland Indians and I didn’t want that to be compromised in any fashion.
While Ken and Lori could have gone into the game at Progressive after the 1st pitch was thrown, I might have had to listen to it in the car. This also meant only tying the record. Stressful situations were playing out in my mind. Lori was just as stressed as me, that is why we never noticed that Colorado actually took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th. We cheered for the visitors so vehemently that we drew the ire of some of the Pittsburgh fans. We bolted out of there when the last pitch was thrown. We were on easy street to make 1st pitch.
MLB Park # 26 Day # 20
KC 8 @ CLE 2
If ever there was a game on the field that secondary to what was going on in the park, it was this game. Ken Lee, Lori Martini and I headed up to the Indians Social Suite to meet up with Anne Keegan. It was nice to put a face to a name that we had been communicating with. Within 2 minutes of meeting her, we can see why everyone that has ever met her completely raves about her attitude. She was so accommodating as a host. Anne talked with each of us individually in order to have our stories down straight. She had said that there would be a special guest coming into the suite soon after the game started. After we all ate in the Press Room next door, (which was an incredible assortment of food) the game started. There were about 7 other guests in the suite with us. The Indians pride themselves on this new social media suite. The place is reserved for special fans that are contributing to the game in a positive manner. They encourage using Facebook and Twitter in the suite and to follow some of the Cleveland Indians players and front office. In my opinion, all of the MLB teams should adopt the blue print set forth by this forward thinking organization. About 20 minutes after the game started in walked the guest. It took me about 2 seconds flat to realize that it was Indians team president Mark Shapiro.
The man could not have been any cooler. Mark knew my record streak, all about the games and the days and was genuine in wishing me the best to beat the record. I was in awe of how down to earth he was. I stood there engaged in conversation for a lengthy one on one chat with former General Manager. Soon I introduced Mr. Shapiro to Lori Martini and watched as he further demonstrated all his insights on her resume as a ballpark chaser. Right in the social media suite was now Miss Martini’s bobblehead doll from her short film ‘Caught’. Lori had already sent a press kit to all Major League Baseball teams and their affiliates at the end of March of who her and I were. That I was doing the streak this year and Lori is going for the women’s record in 2013. The Indians soon made the connection when we started emailing who was going to be with me for the trip. Not only did we get our picture taken with Mark Shapiro, we all talked to him for an inning. To this date the Team President has retweeted several of my posts and I am thankful each time. I am hoping to meet Mark Shapiro again one day and talk more baseball and about all of the parks.
After Mr. Shapiro left, Matthew Van Wormer interviewed Lori and I from “DidtheTribeWinLastNight.com.” It was an interview that talked about the new term of ‘ballpark chasers’ and what our trips all mean in the grand scheme of things. Lori was able to explain that this kind of trip should be made into a webseries on TV-and that we are just the people to do it next year. You can read the article here. The night was still not over. The Cleveland Indians also had Lori and I do a video interview that will be displayed on their website shortly. By the time this all ended the game was becoming a runaway for the Kansas City Royals over the Cleveland Indians. The Final score of 8-2 flattered the Indians. Ken Lee, Lori Martini and I left this facility having a higher regard for the ball club and its PR Department. This new-found information propels the Park into the top 15 of all MLB Parks now. If this is the kind of staff that are running the whole park then the team just needs to be competitive again before all of the people come back. The fans all need to know how much this staff cares about them, I would work for these people in a heartbeat and I am a Yankees fan! There was a minor scare at Cleveland airport that I will talk about in the book version of the trip. I do not want to take any positivity away from this exceptional night at the park.
MLB Park # 27 Day # 21
SF 6 @ CIN 5
Great American Ball Park
As the picture can show you I was tired. The previous night in Cleveland had been such an upper. By the time Ken Lee and I left the Cleveland area it was well after 5:30 AM in the morning. We hauled down the highways of 71-75 and 70 to arrive at the Great American Ballpark for 10:30 AM. We were both tired and had a tough time getting geared up for this game. Technically, we were not seeing the game together as Ken drove onwards to Chicago right away. I needed him to pick me up from the ORD Airport. Initially I was supposed to head up to the CVG Airport for a rental car but it was not going to work out due to weird circumstances (yet another post-mortem deal that will be explained in a book somewhere.)
In a trip that has all happened for a reason, I was let out of the car right in front of the cab area after the game. I asked a couple of vendors if the area where the cabs all sit and they replied ‘yes.’ I needed a fast getaway. At the very least, I was without a bunch of luggage and traveling light. The game featured Ryan Vogelsong vs Homer Bailey for the Reds. I was watching the entire festivities from the 3rd base concourse. I met up with a couple of locals. They used me as a person to get a secondary beer since I don’t drink. Apparently the new rule around baseball is that your are only allowed to get one drink per id in the parks. This must have been mandated out of New York.
I really like the park at the Great American Ball Park. The Ohio River is an incredible backdrop. This is the 1st franchise ever in MLB. Absent from the park is #14 Pete Rose, the lifetime ban also includes no mention of the player in the park and his number is not retired on the wall. If you go to the Cincinnati Hall of Fame across the street you will see much homage to the ‘Big Red Machine.’ Highlighted by the museum are 4192 baseballs cascading throughout the 5 stories of the place. These baseballs are not all of the baseballs he hit naturally, it is simply to show you how many hits that he punched out in a marvelous career. The Cincinnati fans are ready for a winner and the park exemplifies this. With Albert Pujols moving to the American League, this should even out the playing field for the Reds.
Fast forward to the top of the ninth, the Giants were trailing 5-3 on homers by Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce. Homer Bailey had come up with a quality start for the Reds scattering 3 runs. The Giants worked the 1st two batters on baseball and made me panic. At worst though I have an advantage. As long as the visitors take the lead outright or lose when trailing then I am okay. The only result that cuts like a knife is an outright. Angel Pagan had me cheering with a 3 run home run to take the lead 6-5. How quickly the pendulum can swing, I was now cheering for the SF Giants to close the game out with their closer. The game was nearing the 3 hour mark. I am so happy that the Reds schedule their day matinée’s at 12:35 PM. Realistically, I would be okay until the 4 PM area. It should only have been around a 20 minute ride to the airport. I never was in doubt the game would end quick. I raced out to the cab 19 seconds after the game ended. Ken Lee told me he was in gridlock traffic 100 miles out of Chicago. This party was just started, I would have to worry about everything in Chicago.
MLB Park # 28 Day # 21
BOS 10 @ CWS 3
US Cellular Field
The picture says it all. I made 1st pitch of Game #28. It would be the last doubleheader of the trip and I executed on 7 out of the 9 days. In the four attempts all time, I closed out 25 doubleheader opportunities with 19 converted doubleheaders or 76%, 7 out of the 9 doubleheaders this year is 77.7% conversion rate, so it was within the average numbers. Ken Lee gets full credit for waiting out a huge car-transportation truck fire in which 10 luxury cars blew up in a fire wreaking havoc on traffic. Ken made it to ORD by 5:45. We were still looking to be in some trouble. At 26 miles out from the yard, we had log-jammed traffic. Enter GPS Navigation System. Ken bought a brand new GPS system in Minnesota the week before. It served us well traveling in and out of the rural areas. When we were fully back onto highway 90/94 again Ken and I decided to gun for it. GPS wanted to steer us out by the rural area gain. We didn’t listen to her and made it to the park with 20 minutes to spare.
It was so cold in the game I had a tough time keeping warm. US Cellular Field is going to plummet down the rankings of the parks. Strike 1: Tickets at their facility are $25 at the cheapest, which is the same as the price of parking. Strike 2: You are pigeon-holed into your designated ticket area, meaning if you want to see all of the park you must buy a field level ticket for the price of about $50. Strike 3: for Us Cellular Field is that the warmest place during a cold night is the friggin mens washroom. How about hot zones in the concourses fellas! Your park goes in to the bottom third of the league. The game was a snoozefest and the yada, yada yada, the Red Sox won. At least Ken Lee was happy because he is a big fan.
MLB Park # 29 Day # 22
MIL 1 @ STL 13
Nobody was watching the forecast more in the month of April than me. Ken Lee and I had stayed at a cheap motel in Monee IL after the successful doubleheader attempts two days in a row. Halfway into the drive to Cincinnati the day before Lori Martini called me to tell me that she had my driver’s license because the Best Western we all stayed in Cleveland, had failed to return it to me when checking in or out. I know I should have been more careful. Thank goodness that Lori checked out 4 hours later than Ken and me. I was able to organize a one-way rental for Lori from Cleveland to LGA at National Car Rental. She got to drive a DODGE CHARGER all the way back to New York City for $10. Ken and I were still in our rental car that we both chipped in for from ORD. Now I am telling everyone this as to show what we were up against in the next 29-32 hours here.
The Game at Busch looked like weather was going to play a factor. Ken Lee drove the 5 hours to St. Louis from Monee IL. The next days drive was going to be 14 hours from St. Louis to Baltimore. Ken would try to get 2 hours of sleep before the game. Ken and I arrived at Caleco’s downtown at 4 PM. Ken was more nervous about the weather than even me. I honestly try not to worry about anything unless it is happening right in the timeline of the game. At one point we were discussing all plausible scenario in the event of a rain out. Ken and I ate our lunch and then found a great parking spot right next to the gate we were walking into. Ken was battling fatigue. I too usually run into a few walls after about 8-10 on the road. Ken was experiencing this. He did not need to see every out like me so I told him to pick up his 4 1/2 innings before retreating to the car. Ken texted me I may have to do some driving. I agreed to do this before so I was cool with it. Actually having 7 hours of straight sleep the previous night boded well for me.
The sun prevailed before I entered Busch and the threat of rain was non-existent. I really like the St. Louis Cardinals this year even with out Albert Pujols. Yadier Molina is one of the best hitting catchers, David Freeze is one of the better hitters in the NL if he can stay healthy at all, Matt Holiday is a solid hitter. You add the usual cast of characters with solid pitching and you will see these guys compete for the NL Central crown this year. The Milwaukee Brewers replaced Prince Fielder‘s contract with the signing Aramis Ramirez for third base. The problem is that Ramirez only seems to hit in the second half. A couple of players like Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan had productive and timely hitting seasons last year. I am not sure Nyjer Morgan will have an average near.300 and with less protection, Corey Hart may not duplicate his strong offensive out put. Hart to his credit, has started out with decently. The Brewers had no fight in this game as they lost 13-1. I only had one game left to see. I took the driver’s side door and we left the city of St. Louis. All that stood in the way of the record was some weather and a 14 hour drive.
MLB Park # 30 Day # 23
OAK 1 @ BAL 10
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Douglas “Chuck” Booth (Baseball Writer)- The game had wrapped up in Busch Stadium for what was game #29. My wing-man Ken Lee, had done some great driving work to help me with 2 straight double-header even before heading to St. Louis. As we left the city on I-70, I took on the duties of driving. Ken had exhausted himself in the process of helping me. I started the 1st 8 hours of driving towards Baltimore. This would be park number 30 in only 23 days. For me I knew this would mean another world record. In the back of my mind it was a long time between cities so I was gearing up to face the challenge. I was rested up as much as I had been in several weeks. The driving was actually a nice change from being a passenger.
I have driven the same stretch of highway several times in my life. I was thinking about the entire trip thus far and how it had tested both of my mental and physical fortitude like no other trip in my life ever had. I was earning this last game with an 840 mile car ride. Ken and I switched seats after a hearty breakfast at a Waffle House right outside of Columbus Ohio. We were monitoring the weather report for Camden Yards through Ken’s phone. It looked more and more like rain was to play a factor at the park. I had been so lucky up to this point of the trip, because only 4 games out of the 29 games had come under rain alert and 2 of those parks had dome’s(TOR and SEA).
Ken Lee and I made it to Camden Yards at 5:20 PM and we were immediately greeted with a monsoon of rain. We were soon joined by Lori Martini and Roger Ratzenberger. We all watched the pregame ceremony that honored the Baltimore Orioles greats of Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray and the guest of honor: ‘Frank Robinson.’ The clouds still persisted on and rain flooded down on us. At times I was becoming a little unnerved by it all. A rain out would be devastating. It meant I could only tie my Guinness Book of World Record. Or…. If the game had started and then was suspended, I would be disqualified if there was not a final. The only way I could avoid this was if they resumed the exact game the next day and even that would mean I just would tie the record.
The game started under crazy rain. Thank goodness that Ken Lee had received a free umbrella as a giveaway promotion at Target Field, otherwise we would have all been soaked. Lori and I had purchased food from the restaurant closest to the Warehouse building. I ate a BBQ pulled pork sandwich with bacon and fries, while Lori ate a crab cake sandwich. Roger and Ken both made purchases from Boog’s Barbecue pit in right center, with Ken eating a Turkey Sandwich and Roger buying a double meat BBQ pork sandwich. Our seats were in the 1st row of section 96.
I love the national anthem at Camden Yards because the crowd yells ‘O’ when the song goes, ‘o say’. It was really nice to see 26000 fans at this park. If the Baltimore Orioles maintain their early start-then the fans should come back to this beautiful baseball cathedral. The pitching matchup was not a good one with Tyson Ross of the A’s hurling against Wie-Yin Chen of the Orioles. The 1st few innings were just painful to watch because of the rain and slow pitching. All I needed was the game to hit the bottom of the 5th inning with the Baltimore Orioles winning and the record was mine. Baltimore amassed a 6-0 lead heading into the 4th inning for which I was very happy. I keep telling for all to hear, that a home team win saves about 10-12 minutes because they don’t have to hit in the bottom portion of the inning when the game is over.
The rain finally let up in the middle innings and we all started to breathe a little easier. Once the bottom of the 5th hit people were texting me and tweeting me congratulations. I was happy for this but Baltimore was leading 6-0 at the time. As funny as it seems, the game was not entirely over. If the A’s scored 6 runs to tie the game before a postponement, the game would go down as a no-contest and thus I would be disqualified from my streak. I had a similar occurrence to this is 2008. Flashback: (I was watching a game at US Cellular in my second game of the trip when the Sox blew a 9th inning lead and the game was tied at 5-5. The rains came down with a feverish ferocity. If I was an umpire, I would have called for a delay. I couldn’t watch or listen as the Sox batted in the bottom of the 10th. Enter A.J Pierzynski to the game. He swung at the 1st pitch offered and crushed a thunderous blast into the mezzanine at US Cellular Field to end the game. It was a scene out of a movie. I never saw where the ball landed but the crowd went beserk while my streak was preserved,) but let’s get back to this game though.
There was not much else that would stop me and the game ended with an Orioles 10-1 win. I beat my old record of 2009 by 1 day. I saw a MLB game in each of the 30 MLB Parks(for every single pitch of each contest) in only 23 calendar days from April.6th to April.28th. I have traveled 55000 miles in the air and about 10000 miles on the ground by car, train, bus, Subway, Taxi’s and walking. I endured 3 mechanical plane delays that cost me a chance to attempt 3 more double-headers, but that it the way it goes. I told most people, I thought I would bring in a 30-23 attempt anyway. This is a record I think that will never be broken. This schedule was unique this year in that more clubs scheduled matinee’s because the season ends on October 3rd and the clubs all like to give themselves every chance to complete a game should there be a delay. I have looked at the MLB schedule for 4 straight years and never even an attempt that bested 30-23.
While chasing down this record, it was my goal to prove to Major League Baseball that the best marketing tool they have is watching games live in person. I wanted to show them that by going to all of the parks and using Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, that I could create a buzz. Yes, it also helps that I write for this website here. That is why I can’t thank Jonathan Hacohen enough for his fandom of baseball. Jonathan and I first met when I was interacting with last year’s MLB Fancave guys Mike O’ Hara and Ryan Wagner. I sent him a copy of my novel chronicling the last streak I went on in 2009. From there, he wrote a great review for it and a follow-up interview. I then wrote a guest article for the World Series and then by January, I was writing full articles on a weekly basis. At the end of January, floated the notion to him that I was thinking about another record trip. I explained to him that I wanted to do a 93 article series with previews, expert interviews and post-game write-ups for each park. He was game for the coverage. I finally met Jonathan in Toronto for a game. His passion for the game is unlike any other I have seen. I am happy to be writing for this website because Jonathan embraces fandom like his. We are pleased to say that we will be chronicling baseball journeys with a dedicated page always at the Reports.
So from the time I bought my first tickets and plane fares on February.26 until now, it has been an incredible ride. A lot of people thought I was crazy in going for this record again, and for this I understand. I was lucky enough to have some help from Southwest Airlines, National Car Rental, Best Western Hotels and Air Tran Airways. These four companies are simply the best travel companies in the country and their dedication to customer service is a big reason why I was able to pull this off. Southwest not having bag fees or change of flight fees saved my life when I had to change 5 game dates and flights during a hard travel night in San Diego. It was a night where I had to think fast on my feet and my rescheduled plan worked out perfectly.
Now it is time to thank the people who helped me. It is a countless amount of ballpark chasers around the country. I will start with the chasers that attended games with me. Ken Lee went to 9 games with me and was my driver for the last third of the trip. Bob Devries was with me for 3 games. Roger Ratzenberger was with me for 2 games including the finale. Ben Fallon, The Salter Family and the Narry Families were with me for games in San Francisco and Detroit. I visited with Meg Minard in Colorado and Doug Miller joined Ken Lee and I in Seattle. I also met RJ Breisacher in New York for the Yankees game and he was able to pass along the news of how awesome the Cleveland Indians franchise was in hosting him and celebrating his own baseball journey. I also met Steve Fekete in Angel Stadium, who was not only there with me until last pitch in LA but called me to alert of a traffic jam at near midnight when I was driving back from San Diego for an over night flight from Los Angeles. Had Steve not phoned me with this information I would have missed this flight to Dallas that night.
Then there is Lori Martini. This incredible baseball fan really brought my level of enthusiasm up for this streak like no one ever has! Lori has been to 41 MLB Parks in history (including all 30 current MLB Parks and 11 defunct parks). I had asked her in 2009 to be part of my featured profiles for my baseball book that came out last year. Inever knew her last name or information so it wasn’t to be but ironically enough, she replied to that message I left her on the same day the novel went live in 2011. Last June we sent a few messages back and forth and agreed that it would be awesome to meetup in Miami for a game when her Mets were to first visit New Marlins Ball Park. We thought that a meeting amongst some of the most extreme ballpark chasers would be a good way to really nail down a review of the new park. (Lori has since written a review of the New Marlins Ball Park that is amongst the highest viewed online and can be found here)
Lori sent me a message this last February that she would be unable to attend the Mets game in Florida because her short film ‘CAUGHT’ was playing in the Women’s International Film Festival in late March. She would be attending an exhibition game during that weekend. I sent her back a message explaining I was probably going to have to cancel because of my streak pursuit. Lori was so fired up about the prospect of my streak that she fully had me pumped to finally pull the trigger 100% on the trip and make it epic. As I continued to relay messages back and forth with this lifetime Mets Fan (funny because I love the Yankees), I realized Lori was adamant about wanting to do this streak herself one day and set the record for Females. I told her about the parameters of such a streak chase and what it entailed. From that point forward it has been an incredible wave of sharing baseball knowledge and working as a team on my trip, with a look forward to Lori’s impending trip in 2013.
Since March.15, Lori and I have been on a media blitz. We first were interviewed as top ballpark chasers by the Miami Herald Newspaper. Since then, we have done countless interviews for the streak in the form of Radio, TV, Newspaper, Podcast and blogging networks. Lori has been on a roll with her music and film career as well in addition to finally receiving recognition as the top ‘Female Ball Park Chaser’ of all-time. Lori attended 7 ballparks with me on this journey. She was part of two successful doubleheader attempts. I say that she had brought ‘lady luck’ to this attempt. It was a good demo sample for her to see the entire scope of what one of these trips brings forth. Lori has since joined this website as a writer and we are fortunate to have her. She is pretty, smart, witty and is the most talented person I have ever met.
So to Lori Martini I write: “I simply can’t thank you enough for your dedication in helping me achieve my dreams once again. Your exuberance, energy and loyalty through this entire process helped keep me level, focused and striving towards my goal. You are the only one that I have ever met that has chased their-own dreams with as much determination (or more than me.) With my trip being officially over now, I now pass the torch over to you for your baseball record attempt in the summer of 2013. Just like you were there for me for this trip in 2012, I will be there for you in 2013, sharing my wisdom and expertise with this category so that you can finally see the recognition you deserve!